FreedomPop’s unusual free mobile Internet model gained steam today as the company announced it would now offer customers access to Sprint’s LTE network.
FreedomPop’s offering provides customers with up to 500 megabytes of mobile data service using its mobile hot spot device. The service will fall back to Sprint’s 3G network should a customer roam outside of LTE coverage. Sprint recently reported that its LTE network has expanded to 151 markets, with plans to hit 200 million potential customers covered by the end of the year.
Customers can add more data to their bucket, with 2 gigabytes priced at $20; 4 GB at $35; and 5 GB at $40. The LTE-enabled mobile hot spot device is set to retail for $200, with initial launch units priced at $150. FreedomPop noted pricing was well below the $250 Sprint charges for the same device.
FreedomPop noted that it was currently serving more than 100,000 customers, with 40% of its customer base selecting one of the larger data buckets. All of the company’s rate plans do not require a contract.
FreedomPop initially got in on the mobile broadband offering last year through a partnership with Clearwire to offer service across that carrier’s WiMAX network. That offering, which launched last fall, included the use of a “sleeve” that attached to the back of Apple iPhone 4/4S or iPod Touch devices providing access to the WiMAX network. Clearwire has since been acquired by Sprint with plans to favor its LTE rollout over its WiMAX network, with WiMAX coverage having topped out at around 130 million pops covered.
FreedomPop had previously attempted to work with LightSquared, but those plans fell through after LightSquared was unable to secure access to its spectrum licenses.
FreedomPop is also looking to break out into the smartphone space with plans to offer an Android-powered device later this year providing the same 500 MBs of data, 200 free calling minutes and free text messaging. FreedomPop noted that the offering will be the first-ever all-data devices running “100% VoIP over cellular networks,” with Sprint providing the cellular network.
FreedomPop CEO and co-founder Stephen Stokols demonstrated the company’s wares at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
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